Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Healing Flame of Love

Herz Jesu IkoneHave you been disappointed in love? Alas, many people have. Even the great Saint Teresa complained that God had few friends because He treated them so roughly. (I'll bet she paid for this!) Many are frustrated in their hopes and dreams of an ideal love; disillusioned after a few years of married life; still unsatisfied after the endless pursuit of the pleasure they call love.
But, if God is love, our natural idea of love must of necessity be elevated if we are to be oriented to an eternal life of love. To many in religion, "vocation" was a story of falling in love with God. What dreams of peace and great conquests of souls! Alas, after many years of struggling, the heights look too chilly for climbing; the discomfort of the effort is seemingly out of proportion to what we are to get out of it.
We had fallen in love with God, I say, but now He does not seem to give us a feeling of being loved in return. He does not seem to speak to us to answer either our questions or our pleas for help. He must have forgotten all about us or there would be more communication between us. So we kind of sulk and miss the great significance of encountering God in the staggering possibilities that grace presents to us at each moment.
But, Christ has said "Behold this Heart which loves men so much". Do we really believe this? If we did, our eyes would sparkle, our hearts would be aflame and love would flow from our fingertips. God does speak to us but we must study and watch closely if we are to learn His language.
I must learn to understand what God wants of me by effects - what happens when I do this, when I ask for that. I must strive to penetrate the arrangement of circumstances, to see in each situation a setup for perfect success - or perfect failure. No, He does not seem to speak to me, but He does, though communication is below the level of consciousness - and this is where faith comes in. Many times He uses people to give answers - to push you when you need a push, a kind word when you need help. (You may be the instrument to bring someone into line, so take care that it is done with charity). Faith puts Him right near me when I am disposed to notice Him.
There are fabulous graces available to a person disappointed in love, for one of the wounds of crucifixion is to the heart. Crucifixion is following Christ and the short cut to sanctity.


God does have a plan - to save each one of us and to save th world. My life is not just a hit-or-miss business; there is a way planned out for me that will bring me to heaven. This is for everyone. He does not argue with us if we choose to deviate, but He gives us plenty of signals to make us stop and listen to Him. Just look around and see (in the various kinds of suffering) how hard He has to hit, yet people still will not listen.
Let us start with the fact that here is sufficient grace for all men to be saved (Christ redeemed all men). Therefore there is enough potential supernatural (not merely spiritual) energy available to save the world, if it is put to work. (Work is energy applied over a period of time.) Note that the activity must be supernatural, that is, directed by the will to God. The way to put it to work is to cooperate with God's will, God's plan to save the world. A reservoir can be a potential supply of water for a city. It is a supply, if there is a pipeline.
The Church is God's plan for the world. He works in an orderly way. Salvation is accomplished through the channels set up, that is, the Church. We can supply living water by willing to receive and transmit grace, and so give that extra something that St. Paul said was lacking. If there is not enough living water flowing - not enough supernatural work being done - we should endeavor to find out how we can increase our output.
The following sections endeavor to point out the possibilities.


a. Grace is completely available.
There is not just one thing to do at each moment, or I fail to do God's will; there are a multitude of actions presented to me by grace. Different ways to act are as available as different items in a supermarket - yet appointed for my needs with great care.
b. Grace gives physical ability to do the things necessary for salvation.
Example: You cannot put your hand in a fire and hold it there. St. Joan of Arc could put her whole body in a fire because God desired it. She was given the ability through grace.
c. Cooperation with grace puts me in touch with a tremendous power. If we believe that we are and can do nothing, we must believe that here is a power that can do everything. This power is, of course, God. Cooperation with His ideas, acceptance of His plans can make the power available.
Example: You cannot push a freight train, yet a small movement of the throttle and the whole train starts to move.
d. Grace operates below the level of consciousness.
Wonderful things - like the operation of grace, God speaking to us, the Spirit moving us, etc. - are continually causing changes in our soul. We are unaware either of their action or their significance.
Example: Consider what happens in baptism, etc., or what happened when the prodigal son said, "I will return..."
e. God will not sanctify me against my will, but He can change my will to make it agree with His desires.
f. Grace is a receiving.
The really important thing to understand about grace is that we receive it as a gift. We do not earn it or receive it because we seem to have done something to deserve it. If we are at all interested in arriving at a high degree of prayer (in order to increase our output) we must appreciate this function if grace, for in contemplation our activity is a receiving.


One of the great puzzles for anyone seeking to make progress in the spiritual life is in knowing God's will. "How do I know right now what God wants me to do?" In answer, I would say that 90% of your questions can be answered by your state in life. The other 10% are rather unpredictable, because it is in this area that God can arrange special circumstances that will orient you, reorient you, change your life etc. tc., in accordance with His plans, His providence. The way you accept, fight, or are indifferent to this orientation can be significant in your movement towards or away from God.
Let us take another view of it. In order to be saved, we have to follow God's will. In order to follow God's will we have to know what to do. He has to let us know what to do without forcing the action on me. (I have a will free to accept or reject). To do this He uses a vehicle. For example, He uses the vehicle of a hen to give us fresh eggs. The hen can be sick, well or lame, yet the egg can be a good. one. Sickness, failure, suffering can be a vehicle that brings the underlying, all-important will. Or, consider a broker scanning a ticker tape. Ordinary figures on a strip ofpaper being fed to him moment by moment engender all kinds of ideas about buying or selling, etc. So, too, God is showing us a multiplicity of things to do through grace, yet not forcing them on us.
One way of becoming more completely in accord with God and His will is to try often to put oneself in agreement with everything that is happening up to the ever-advancing 'now'. If there is anything in the world of events or in your interior thoughts that fails of a complete rapprochement with God - Who directly wills or permits these things - it is an indication that your will is not in accord with Divine Wisdom. Over a period of time obstacles to grace can thus be brought into spiritual focus and if there is willingness to remove them the ability will be forthcoming. This can be very effective in regard to acceptance of events of life that affect your personally.
Again, completely disassociate yourself from the work you do (teaching, selling, nursing etc.) insofar as it is your livelihood. Then, re assimilate it objectively as the means whereby God is sanctifying you. In this way when things occur that are difficult to reconcile with your work as a career, they can be associated with your sanctification and seen for what they are.

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